le·​ver | \ ˈle-vər How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē- How to pronounce lever (audio) \

Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1a : a bar used for prying or dislodging something
b : an inducing or compelling force : tool use food as a political leverTime
2a : a rigid piece that transmits and modifies force or motion when forces are applied at two points and it turns about a third specifically : a rigid bar used to exert a pressure or sustain a weight at one point of its length by the application of a force at a second and turning at a third on a fulcrum
b : a projecting piece by which a mechanism (see mechanism sense 1) is operated or adjusted


levered; levering\ ˈle-​və-​riŋ How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē-​ ; ˈlev-​riŋ , ˈlēv-​ \

Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

transitive verb

1 : to pry, raise, or move with or as if with a lever
2 : to operate (a device) in the manner of a lever

Illustration of lever

Illustration of lever


lever 2a

In the meaning defined above

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Synonyms for lever

Synonyms: Verb

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Examples of lever in a Sentence

Noun They used their money as a lever to gain political power. Verb He levered the rock out of the hole. the workers used crowbars to lever the heavy stone block into its new position
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Recent Examples on the Web: Noun Companies that haven’t differentiated often reach for an easy lever to stoke disappointing sales: lowering prices. Tom Spitale, Forbes, 8 Sep. 2021 City officials have so far towed more than 1,300 cars left behind by drivers when the water lever became too high, Emergency Management Commissioner John Scrivani said, while workers have also de-watered hospitals, government buildings, and homes. Mark Morales, CNN, 3 Sep. 2021 The word levee comes from the French term lever, meaning rising or getting up. USA Today, 30 Aug. 2021 From inside each cab, a lever was shifted that took the truck out of gear and diverted engine power to a water pump. Jeffrey E. Stern, The Atlantic, 30 Aug. 2021 Sporting a new shift lever and calibration, the manual gear change is crisp and intuitive. Matt Crisara, Popular Mechanics, 24 Aug. 2021 The shift lever travels through the gates with a smooth and positive movement. David Beard, Car and Driver, 17 Aug. 2021 How does that become a unique lever for us for change? Megan Ditrolio, Marie Claire, 5 Aug. 2021 Threatened eviction is the primary lever owners have to convince tenants to pay arrears or at least negotiate in good faith to make some compromise arrangement. Joel Zinberg, National Review, 4 Aug. 2021 Recent Examples on the Web: Verb The deal represents Skyworks’ largest acquisition on record and is more than double its last reported cash balance of $1 billion, requiring the currently debt-free chip maker to lever up. Dan Gallagher, WSJ, 24 Apr. 2021 Gradually raising capital standards would de-lever the financial system, reducing the risk of future bailouts and limiting one way the super-rich in the financial sector magnify their wealth. Robert Stein, National Review, 15 Nov. 2020 Also undo the lift-rod assembly, all the parts that lever the stopper up and down. Roy Berendson, Popular Mechanics, 13 Sep. 2020 These potential environmental requirements will lever the airlines to operate new planes with higher levels of fuel economy sooner rather than later. Shawn Tully, Fortune, 20 June 2020 Not when there is fear to be exploited, cracks to lever into chasms. John Archibald | Jarchibald@al.com, al, 29 Jan. 2020 That the president also levered Christine Lagarde, an economically doveish Frenchwoman, into the presidency of the European Central Bank also helps him. The Economist, 26 Sep. 2019 The project involves replacing the door knobs and associated hardware of all the classroom doors with levered handles that can be locked from the inside, according to Don Aicardi, the school district’s director of finance and operations. BostonGlobe.com, 6 Nov. 2019 The next morning, a dentist levered my teeth back into place with a tongue depressor and cemented them in line. Nick Paumgarten, The New Yorker, 4 Nov. 2019

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'lever.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of lever


14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1a


1876, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for lever

Noun and Verb

Middle English, from Anglo-French levier, lever, from lever to raise, from Latin levare, from levis light in weight — more at light

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Time Traveler for lever

Time Traveler

The first known use of lever was in the 14th century

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Dictionary Entries Near lever

Leven, Loch


lever action

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Statistics for lever

Last Updated

11 Sep 2021

Cite this Entry

“Lever.” Merriam-Webster.com Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/lever. Accessed 21 Sep. 2021.

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More Definitions for lever



English Language Learners Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

: a strong bar that is used to lift and move something heavy
: a bar or rod that is used to operate or adjust something on a machine, vehicle, device, etc.
: something used to achieve a desired result



English Language Learners Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

: to lift or move (something) with a lever


le·​ver | \ ˈle-vər How to pronounce lever (audio) , ˈlē- \

Kids Definition of lever

 (Entry 1 of 2)

1 : a bar used to pry or move something
2 : a stiff bar for lifting a weight at one point of its length by pressing or pulling at a second point while the bar turns on a support
3 : a bar or rod used to run or adjust something a gearshift lever


levered; levering

Kids Definition of lever (Entry 2 of 2)

: to raise or move with a bar

More from Merriam-Webster on lever

Nglish: Translation of lever for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of lever for Arabic Speakers

Britannica.com: Encyclopedia article about lever


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